Certified organic livestock production in Kenya nearly does not exist despite the fact that livestock production forms an integral part of many organic farms, because of its role in nutrient recycling on the farm. The purpose of the study was to indentify and document the challenges of conversion to organic livestock production. A total of 63 semi-structured interviews of smallholder farmers in Kiambu and Kajiado counties, whose crop enterprises are certified were conducted to determine the influence of production and socioeconomic factors to conversion of their livestock enterprises. Survey data were documented and analyzed using SPSS and the ground theory method. Dairy cattle, goats and chicken constituted the main livestock kept by the farmers. None of the farmers had converted their livestock enterprises to organic and the animals were mainly kept for subsistence purposes. 60% of the dairy cattle, goat and chicken owners were female and were more involved in routine livestock management, with farming as their major source of income. 40% of the farmers have practiced crop-livestock integration for more than 7 years and have considered managing their livestock organically. Results suggest that lack of approved livestock feeds and organically approved technologies to use against pest and diseases were the most important constraints to the farmers and the major hindrance to conversion of the livestock enterprises. Farmers reported using a number of organic innovations for prevention of mastitis, de-worming and reducing inflammation but found that the innovations were not sufficient remedies forcing them to seek alternative inorganic solutions. The prospects of organic livestock production are dependent on farmers’ socioeconomic status, support to organic livestock production, research, education and extension. These factors should therefore be considered when planning strategies to develop organic livestock production in smallholder farming systems.
organic livestock production; smallholder; conversion; Kenya